The City of Vancouver has launched a pop-up engagement site at 511 West Broadway, where it’s encouraging the public to have their say in how single-use items such as hot and cold beverage cups can be reduced.
Featuring a large bin overflowing with 1,300 empty coffee cups—the same number thrown into the trash every five minutes—the temporary space is operated by city staff who will be available to hear suggestions that will, ideally, lessen the disposable cups, bags, and takeaway containers sent to the landfill. Citizens may also learn about waste-reduction solutions that officials are considering following consultations with individuals, nonprofits, and businesses.
According to a report released as part of the city’s Single-Use Item Reduction Strategy in September, 2.6 million plastic-coated paper cups and two million plastic shopping bags are sent to the landfill every week in Vancouver. At the moment, plastic-coated cups are only accepted in residential recycling streams and select Recycle B.C. facilities. Shopping bags must be taken to the appropriate depots and drop-off boxes.
Other throwaway products that pose a challenge to the civic waste stream include Styrofoam and take-out containers. Because they are not biodegradable, such items are a threat to the environment and cost taxpayers $2.5 million a year to remove.
Since the Single-Use Item Reduction Strategy’s launch in June, organizations such as the Binner’s Project have proposed ideas like implementing a recycling deposit on coffee cups, which would encourage people to dispose of them properly while creating an additional source of income for the city’s binners.
Other solutions that have been offered on social media include adding charges to single-use items and only offering single-use products crafted from biodegradable materials. The city maintains that the strategies it adopts must consider the everyday operations of food and restaurant businesses, many of which depend on take-out cups and containers.
Vancouver city staff are expected to present recommendations to council in early 2018. The region has a goal of becoming a zero waste community by 2040.
The Single-Use Item Reduction Strategy Pop-up Engagement Space is open until November 29, from December 1 to 3, and from December 4 to 7. For full hours and additional information, click here.